Best Buddies creates a fun and friendly environment for all members

Christina Guckel, Spotlight Editor

Best Buddies is a nationwide organization built upon friendship. Metea’s Best Buddies pairs a student with an intellectual or developmental disability with another Metea student. Before COVID-19, students would have the opportunity to go to a farm in the fall and the mall during Christmas. Now during most meetings students make crafts, go through slideshows, play games, and participate in COVID-friendly activities. Best Buddies positively impacts those who join both in and out of the club  everyday.

Best Buddies is honestly the highlight of my high school experience,” Best Buddies president Allison Wieringa said. “When I see any of them [the Buddies] in the hall, I just get the biggest smile. They always will come up [to me] and say, ‘oh my goodness, Allison,’ and it is just like the best feeling in the world.”

Allison Wieringa is a senior here at Metea. She partners with junior Claire Maroney, the vice president of Best Buddies. Both students have a passion for connecting with those who have disabilities.

“I want to go to speech pathology with kids who have autism, and [Allison] wants to do occupational therapy,” Maroney said. “Both fields  center on people who have disabilities, and this club has just made that so crystal clear.”

Recently, Best Buddies received the high school Chapter of the Year award at the Friendship Walk held at Soldier Field. The program stood out through its outstanding effort to make this club what it is today and was rewarded and recognized for its program.

“You can tell that everyone there is there because they want it,” Maroney said. “Because it will go around that it is good on college applications, and while it is true if that is the reason you are there, you do not get anything out of it. But [out of] the people who are there, you can tell they genuinely want to be, and that just contributes to the overall feel of the club.”

One thing that Metea’s Best Buddies program does that stands out from others is that they do a spring talent show. Students can participate in a group or alone, but it is just one of the exciting activities that this club organizes.

“A lot of the time they [the Buddies] have these talents that go unnoticed because of their disability, and that almost becomes a mask to them,” Maroney said. “But having this freedom to do whatever they want whether it is to dance, sing, or name flags of all the countries,  is just an awesome way for them to express themselves. I think it is the coolest thing we do.”

As the school year comes to an end, Best Buddies members welcome newcomers who are interested in joining. Make sure to follow them on either their Instagram or Twitter for more information!

“​​I would say even if you have never been involved in anything like buddy programs, join,” Wieringa said. “It is so fun!”